At 1:45pm, GHS headmaster Dr. Chris Winters sent an email to parents to allay their fears about a lockdown at the high school, which he said were based on unfounded rumors.
“We are experiencing a normal, quiet day,” he wrote at 1:45pm. “Students are safe and secure and attending their classes. Thanks to the Greenwich Police, we had extra patrolmen at school and in the front circle to provide an added level of safety. The police presence was out of an abundance of caution, not any specific concerns.”
Just a half hour earlier, Winters sent an email to parents and students about school safety and security.
He said that in light of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last week, he had shared a message with students and staff earlier in the day. He also shared a link to Dr. Gildea’s letter from last Thursday, the day after the massacre in Florida.
“First, we all feel deep sorrow for the victims of this senseless shooting and our condolences go out to the families, friends, and colleagues of those whose lives were taken,” Winters wrote. “As school shootings happen with frequency around the country, we all live with the fear that something could happen here.”
Winters said Police Chief Heavey added extra patrols around Greenwich’s schools. GHS School Resource officer Carlos Franco and incoming SRO Hayes Sgaglio are stationed within the high school, and that security staff, assistant deans, administrators and teachers continuously monitor students and the building to ensure the safest possible environment.
“Our efforts alone are not enough,” Winters said. “We need to be in partnership with our students and parents to be fully effective.”
The headmaster said both parents and students can help by serving as eyes and ears for the administration. “If you see something or suspect something, please let us know,” he wrote.”Any student or parent can speak to or email an adult at GHS and we will follow up on that information. Also, we have the Anonymous Alerts system that allows anyone to easily share information with us anonymously. Click HERE to access Anonymous Alerts. We follow up on all tips as quickly as possible.”
Winters said there are five points of entry to GHS, each of which is monitored by a security guard. All visitors must sign in and receive a visitor sticker. No one should open an outside door to anyone, even if it is a friend. The five doors provide convenience into the school for our students and all must walk to one of those doors and show their ID. Visitors are only permitted to enter at the Main Entrance.
Winters said fire and lockdown drills must be respected. “We learn a lot from drills and they prepare us for an actual emergency,” he said.
Lastly, Winters wrote that the shootings take a toll on everyone, but that GHS has significant mental health support. Students who need to speak with a professional are encouraged to take advantage of supports in place.
Winters shared links to information that families might find helpful:
National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope (National Association of School Psychologists)
How to Discuss Violence in Schools with Children (Public School Review)
Letter to Teachers from Teaching Tolerance after the Sandy Hook Tragedy 2012 (Teaching Tolerance)
Talking to Children About Tragedies (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Helping Kids After a Shooting (American School Counselor Association)
Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)
Helping Children Cope with Terrorism – Tips for Families and Educators (National Association of School Psychologists)